Y2K Spawns Citywide Disaster Plan

Citywide Disaster Plan

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Jim Brown, police chief of Hudson, Ohio (pop. 5100), has no idea what, if anything, will happen when the Y2K bug kicks in, but he has spent the past six months reading books, listening to speeches, and looking at more than 1,000 web sites about Y2K in an effort to get ready.

'Responsible police administrators have absolutely no choice other than to plan for the worst-case scenario and hope, as you, for something significantly less,' Brown told members of the U.S. Senate's Special Committee on the Year 2000 Technology Problem in April. 'It would be unacceptable and irresponsible to do anything less.'

Under Brown's direction, the Hudson police department has devised a master plan for dealing with emergencies of any type, be they tornadoes, floods, explosions or problems caused by microchips that are unable to recognize the difference between the years 1900 and 2000.

Brown sees Y2K as a 'vehicle for disaster planning and emergency preparedness,' an aspect of public safety he says has been overlooked too long, especially in areas not typically affected by natural disasters. Meanwhile, the country has become ever more dependent on technology to run basic utilities that most people take for granted.

'We just assume that every time we pick up the phone it's going to work,' he said. If it doesn't, people in Hudson at least know what to do. Under an emergency communications plan, residents first try calling 911. If the connection fails, they can dial a special nonemergency phone number. If that number doesn't work, they can dial the number for any one of three cellular phone lines dedicated to receiving emergency calls. In the event that all phone efforts fail, residents are encouraged to flag down a police officer on patrol or report to either the city's Safety Center (police department building) or to one of 19 'mini-reporting stations.'

The stations, staffed by community volunteers, will be based in buildings, school buses and privately owned vehicles at predetermined locations throughout the city. All volunteers will be equipped with reflective vests, city identification cards and magnetic signs for their vehicles that read 'Police Mini-Station.' According to the police department web site, stations will be activated within three hours of a citywide telecommunications disruption.

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